Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Recommended Tent Camping Locations - IA
Iowa Tent Camping Trip
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Iowa Highway-6 runs east to west, more or less, down the center of the state from Davenport, Iowa, along the banks of the Mississippi River, to Council Bluff along the Nebraska border. And there are plenty of places for an Iowa tent camping adventure, and nostalgia, in the heart of the American Heartland.
Start your road trip in the classic and charming river town of Clinton. Like many of the towns situated along the Mississippi, river life dominates culture down here – and Clinton is very proud of this heritage. Your first stop should be the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre aboard the City of Clinton. This theater group performs year-round onboard an authentic paddleboat permanently docked here. Can’t get enough of showboats along the Mississippi? Head on over to the Mississippi Belle II, a gambling casino harkening back to yesteryear.
From Clinton head south a bit ‘til you reach the town of Davenport. Here is what is known as the “Quad Cities,” the largest metropolitan area in Iowa. Once a major trading hub during the 19th century, the area is steeped in history. However, it’s the military history that draws people to the area. The appropriately named Arsenal Island, located just east of Davenport, was one of the nation’s most important producers of military equipment. Nearby, don’t miss the Rock Island Arsenal Museum, the second-oldest military museum outside of West Point. To get more of the city’s historic charm, visit the Village of East Davenport, a showcase of historic homes and shops dating back to 1851. There are also several gambling boats on-hand to whisk you away along the Mississippi and tempt you to part with your nest egg.
Scott County Park and West Lake Park are a couple Iowa tent campgrounds in the area for you to check out.
Once you’re finished your Davenport visit, continue west until you reach Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. The town is also rich in culture and has become affectionately known as the “Athens of the Midwest.” One peculiar stop in Iowa City is the Devonian Fossil Gorge. In 1993, great floods ravaged the area. After the water receded, a 15-foot chasm full of dinosaur fossils was revealed.
From Iowa City, stop by the progressive town of Grinnell. Home of the acclaimed Grinnell College, the town was founded by J.B. Grinnell who made his town an important stop along the Underground Railroad. Learn these and other exciting tales at the Grinnell Historical Museum.
From there, continue west to the town of Newton, home of the Maytag Company for nearly 100 years. Two worthwhile destinations explain to visitors the company’s major influence on the town include the Jasper County Historical Museum and the Maytag Dairy Farm.
Don’t miss Trainland U.S.A., located just north of the town of Colfax. Nearly one mile of model railroad track runs throughout this converted two-story house, which doubles as a museum dedicated to the model rail as well. Your inner child will thank you for visiting here.
Go west, young man (or woman), and you’ll soon arrive in the Iowa capital city, Des Moines. City sights include the Iowa State Capital Building, the Iowa Historical Building, and the Heritage Carousel, a charming and historic carousel located downtown. While in the area, be sure to take a tour of the six covered bridges of Madison County. Several historic bridges capture the romantic life of yesteryear. Hint: A nostalgic picnic lunch with the Mrs. wouldn’t be a bad idea, you old softie. Here, Acorn Valley is one of the area's Iowa tent campgrounds you should check out.
Heading west from Madison County, your last Iowa tent camping stop along Highway 6 is the border town of Council Bluffs. Named after the meeting place between the Lewis and Clark expedition and local Native American tribes, the town later became a major stopover for folks traveling the Mormon Trail. Explore the Loess Hills Scenic Byway offering Iowa’s best scenery and outdoor recreation. Council Bluffs, designated as the eastern terminus of the first transcontinental railroad and also a hub during the railroad boom, is doubly celebrated at both the Union Pacific Railroad Museum and the RailsWest Railroad Museum.
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